SMEs’ preparations for the holiday season revealed in new report

holiday season

New research by VistaPrint reveals how SMEs are preparing to make the most of the coming holiday season amidst the challenges they have faced this year.

The research highlights the fact that that 33 per cent of SMEs are feeling optimistic, 31 per cent feel prepared, 30 per cent feel confident, and 25 per cent even feel excited. On the other hand, 19 per cent still feel uncertain, and many SME owners describe themselves as nervous (17 per cent), apprehensive (17 per cent) and overwhelmed (15 per cent).

It also noted that businesses that have been in practice for less than two years find themselves particularly apprehensive (32 per cent), while larger SMEs (11+ employees) are more optimistic, 42 per cent of them demonstrating high levels of preparedness in contrast to businesses with two to 10 employees at just 23 per cent.

Over a quarter, 27 per cent, of SME owners are expecting to have challenges meeting customer expectations for quick service, face increased competition in the industry (25 per cent), and staff and hiring issues (20 per cent) according to the survey. Managing increased customer volume (19 per cent), stock shortages (18 per cent), inventory management (14 per cent) are also causing concern for SME owners this year.

To manage the challenges of the holiday period, 85 per cent of SME owners are looking ahead and implementing strategies to manage increased customer volume including adjusting operating hours (30 per cent), stocking up (26 per cent), hiring extra staff (22 per cent) and prioritising certain products and services (21 per cent). However, the top strategy SMEs are employing to survive the holiday season is taking time out for moments of self-care (30 per cent), followed by booking themselves a post-Christmas holiday so they have something to look forward to (22 per cent).

The report also highlights that SME owners are open to many different tactics to boost their revenue this season. In particular, 20 per cent are planning promotions, offers and incentives like free shipping or cash back to attract customers, increasing social media activity (19 per cent) and offering longer opening hours (19 per cent).

Meanwhile, 68 per cent are ramping up marketing activity to promote their businesses during this time – leaning on a mix of traditional advertising and digital tools to get their name out there. 35 per cent are embracing social media advertising, 25 per cent are leveraging email marketing, 22 per cent are investing in online/digital paid advertising, 14 per cent intend to pursue traditional print advertising in 2023, and 12 per cent are eager to explore influencer marketing.

Nearly a quarter of SME owners plan to produce promotional materials and merchandise for holiday marketing, with 44 per cent focusing on materials like flyers, posters, brochures, magnets, postcards, and loyalty cards.

“The results paint a vivid picture of the (sometimes chaotic) landscape that small and medium-sized businesses face as they prepare for the festive and summer holiday season,” Linda McDonald, VistaPrint’s Marketing Director & SME Expert, commented on the research findings. “The diversity in experiences and approaches highlight the need for tailored strategies to navigate the unique challenges that Christmas brings – focusing on the customer, early planning, finances and marketing support cannot be underestimated and can determine the success and future of a business.”